Guest Sewist: Daryl
Pattern: Clear Creek Cardigan
I have always thought the Clear Creek Cardigan was just ADORABLE! It came out first in little sizes which my kiddo had just outgrown, and I was so bummed. And then so happy to see the sizing was extended.
But who likes to sew a pattern as written, amirite? I keep telling myself, at least the first time, just follow the d*mn instructions. But really, what’s the fun in that?
My daughter has been super into cardis lately, but she has several with open fronts, so I wanted to make one with buttons and then I got to thinking about puff sleeves, and here’s what I came up with.
The first step was to think through what changes I would need in the front for the button packet. I am a total convert to using a projector instead of paper patterns, so if that’s a new idea to you, hopefully this post will give you a peek into the advantages. And I highly recommend you check out the “Projectors for Sewing” group on Facebook, as they are truly the experts and will give you all the info you need to choose a projector and set it up. (By the way, Rain City’s projector files are really top notch!)
So, I projected the pattern, cut my back piece and laid it on top of the pattern for the front to see how they compare. As you can see, the fronts are larger than half the back, so they would overlap. With the bands, this would actually be too much overlap for buttons. I measured the overlap and looked at the band width and seam allowance. It looked like I could take about 1” off the center fronts to make the bands overlap exactly, i.e., the front when buttoned would be the same width as the back. (I am sewing a size 6 chest extended to size 8 length. I sized up 1 in length for a little longer look.) However, I hesitated to cut so much off. You can always cut later, but you can’t put it back on again. So I cut the front pieces as drafted and sewed up the shoulder and side seams for a try on. I realized I wanted a little looser fit, so I ended up taking only about ½” off each center front. It would have been good to distribute that ease evenly to the back piece as well, but the end result looks fine on the kid.
Projectors are amazing for stripe matching! I laid my cut back piece right on top of the fabric for the front and lined the stripes up exactly. Then I scrolled my projection to get the shoulder/side/hem of the front pieced lined up to the matching parts of the back piece.
Finally, I gently lifted the back piece off, making sure not to move the fabric underneath, and the first front was ready to cut. For the second front, I just flipped the 1st front over onto the fabric to line up the stripes.
I used the same method to stripe match the pockets: lay down the pocket fabric. Lay the front piece on top of it and match stripes. Then scroll projector pattern to put the pocket piece in the right position on the front. Take the front piece off the pocket fabric and cut the pocket.
By the way, I made a couple of small changes in constructing the pockets. First, I interfaced the whole pocket back (minus seam allowances) instead of just the seams. My kiddos like to USE their pockets (by which I mean stuff them full of rocks), so the poor things need all the help they can get to hold their shape.
Second, I decided to sew the center edge of the pocket right into the seam with the band. That was one of those moments where I re-learned the lesson: trust the designer, they are the professional, there’s probably a reason why they did it that way. Well, it worked out fine, but when I was sewing it up, I realized that the seam was going to get pretty bulky in that section. You definitely shouldn’t put the pocket into the band seam if you want to do the enclosed seam method.
Now onto the puff sleeves. I had in mind that I would probably do some slashing and spreading of the sleeve cap (the rounded part of the sleeve at the top). And I looked at a number of tutorials online, which did indeed recommend that. But other people described just raising the top of the sleeve cap and drawing a new curve. The more I looked at slashing, by the time you cut the pattern into so many pieces, it didn’t seem like you were retaining too much of the original curve anyway. So, quick and dirty being my preferred method, I decide to go that route.
Although projectors are great for cutting fabric out directly, in this case, I traced from the projection onto paper because I wanted to test one sleeve, then be able to cut a matching one. After tracing the original sleeve onto some paper, I measured up 3”, and drew a new sleeve cap. (Note: if your “helper” thinks it’s really funny to keep sticking his foot in front of the projection while you trace, try tracing his foot in another spot and putting a smiley face on it. You will get approximately 33 seconds of peace.)
Then I cut out my new sleeve piece and scrunched up the edges of the cap to simulate gathering and held it up to my bodice (I had already sewn shoulder and side seam) to get a rough idea of how puffy it would be. It looked good so I went ahead and cut 1 sleeve. I sewed a long basting stitch in the top part of the curve to gather it. (Don’t forget to mark the top center before you gather.) See the picture to get an idea of how much of the top I gathered and how much was not gathered at the bottoms of the curve.
When I serge on a sleeve, I like to keep a finger right in front of the foot, so I can feel and make sure the bodice (which is underneath) is staying nice and flat. And as I take out each clip, I can adjust the gathers as needed.
After inserting 1 sleeve, we did another try on. We were happy with the puffiness, so I went ahead and cut, gathered, and sewed the 2nd sleeve.
The band was cut and sewn as normal, except that I interfaced the lower part on each side, where the buttons and button holes would go. I worried about the band being stable enough for buttonholes and buttons, so I put the interfacing across the whole width of the band (minus seam allowance). In other words, when the band is folded, both layers are interfaced. Having finished the sweater, I think 1 layer of interfacing (just half the width of the band) would have been adequate, but it does not look or feel too stiff with the 2 layers. (I used Pellon EK 130 “Easy Knit,” which is a knit interfacing.)
Then kiddo and I had a long debate on button choices and finally agreed on these (all different colors per her preference, all more or less the same size and shape per my preference).
I marked, sewed and cut the buttonholes. Finally, I lined up the fronts and marked button placement through the holes and sewed the buttons.